Health signs that you should stop driving

Deciding when to hand over the car keys is a difficult decision for older people. Giving up driving can mean reduced independence, increased reliance on family and friends, and heightened risks of depression and isolation.

In most Australian States, people aged over 75 must have medical clearance from a doctor and are limited in how long they can renew their licence for.

To drive safely, people need to be able to perceive the road environment, make good decisions and react quickly. Spatial awareness, hearing, concentration, memory, judgment, coordination and muscle power are all things that can become reduced with age.

Along with age, there are medical conditions that can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. These include dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, hearing and vision loss, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, diabetes and even medication, such as sleeping pills or anti-anxiety medication.

According to the experts at House Call Doctor, there are some obvious signs that it is time to give up driving which include:

  • Stopping when there are no green lights or stop sign
  • Being confused by traffic signs and signals
  • Running red lights, or failing to stop at a stop sign
  • Accidents, including side-swiping other vehicles when parking
  • Getting lost, and needing help with directions
  • Hearing from family and friends who are concerned about your driving.

Reducing the amount of driving is a good start, instead of giving up driving completely. Seniors should avoid driving at night or in bad weather. Other advice includes driving only to familiar places, staying within a certain distance of home, avoiding motorways and highways, and removing in-car distractions such as the radio, mobile phones and even passengers.

It is best to consult your doctor about whether it is time to give up driving, and family members can speak to the police if they are concerned about their loved one’s ability behind the wheel.

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